Two new series just started this week (1 May 2016). Handmade on the Silk Road, is a series about traditional crafts along the ancient trade route of the Silk Road. Each film follows a day in the working life of a weaver, woodcarver and potter in China, Uzbekistan and Iran. In The Silk Road, Dr Sam Willis reveals how the Silk Road was the world’s first global superhighway where people with new ideas, new cultures and new religions made exchanges that shaped humanity.

Episode 1 of Handmade on the Silk Road, visits the Uyghur community in north west China who have been making atlas silk for thousands of years. Mattursun Islam and his family are continuing the tradition, using a combination of handmade techniques and mechanised looms. From designing the patterns to colouring, dyeing and weaving the thread, this film follows each stage in absorbing detail.

We also get an engaging glimpse into how their family and working life are closely connected. With rival companies often copying his designs, Mattursan is proud of his reputation. But he and his wife also enjoy a good-natured rivalry over who really runs things.

If you have access to BBC IPlayer you can watch these series by going to the following webpages:

Handmade on the Silk Road

The Silk Road